Should House members serve four-year terms?

Greg Nash

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) is pushing to extend the terms of House members to four years to free them from the pressures of constant fundraising.

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In an interview with The Hill, Larson said extending the terms and staggering them so that half of the House is up for reelection every two years would let members prioritize learning the ropes in Congress over campaign cash.

"I think the two-year cycle and all the demands that places on individuals tends to lend itself to one chasing their tail in terms of raising the money required to get reelected," Larson said.

Larson said new members arrive in Washington for freshman orientation only to be told to start dialing for dollars again.

"The first orders that the Republican Conference and Democratic Caucus give is, 'Get on the phone and start raising money again. You've got an election coming up.' And I think that we ought to reverse that priority," Larson said.

The Connecticut Democrat, who has served in the House since 1999, said the two-year terms barely allow House members to get to know Congress.

"Truth be known, I still get lost in Rayburn," Larson quipped.

He also argued that allowing members to spend more time in the present than positioning for the next election could help ease the congressional dysfunction.

"I think that this would ease the pressure all the way around, and I think also probably create a better climate here of understanding and opportunity for people to better get to know one another," Larson said.

Larson has introduced a resolution to create the staggered four-year terms; it would require ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures because it would amend the Constitution.

The congressman acknowledged that his resolution is only a "first step," but said he hopes it could attract broad bipartisan support and at least get a committee hearing.

"I think that this will attract broad support the more that we talk about it," Larson said. "I'll bet a number of Tea Party members would probably even agree with me as well."